Caught Our Notice: Why did Reuters remove a 3.5-year-old story?

Title: Oil producer Afren fires CEO, 3 other executives in scandal

What Caught Our Attention: Two days ago, the news organization Reuters mysteriously withdrew a 2014 story about the firing of four people from now-defunct oil company Afren, including its CEO. The only explanation: “it did not meet Reuters standards for accuracy.”

The executives were fired in 2014 for allegedly receiving unauthorized payments; two have subsequently faced criminal and civil charges. The news agency has retracted articles on rare occasions — but why a news story from nearly four years ago? The 2014 story appeared to report on an announcement from the company on that same day, which corroborates the facts reported in the headline (all that’s left of the original story). Other outlets also covered the same announcement.

All we know about why the 2014 story disappeared is what little a Reuters spokesperson told us:

We were made aware of errors in the story and withdrew it once they were brought to our attention.

The spokesperson declined to comment further.

Former Afren CEO Osman Shahenshah made the news this week, when the UK Insolvency Service banned he and his former Chief Operating Officer from running another UK company for 14 years, in the continuing fallout from the scandal. In 2017, the Evening Standard reported that Shahenshah and the former COO were suing Afren’s administrators for millions of pounds, “claiming reputational damage after they were sacked for allegedly accepting ‘bribes.’”

Publication: Reuters

The notice:

ADVISORY-The story titled “UPDATE 2-Oil producer Afren fires CEO, 3 other execs in scandal” dated October 14, 2014 is withdrawn, because it did not meet Reuters standards for accuracy. There will be no substitute story.

Date of Article: October 14, 2014

Date of Notice: April 16, 2018

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3 thoughts on “Caught Our Notice: Why did Reuters remove a 3.5-year-old story?”

  1. (all that’s left of the original story)

    Well, not quite all that’s left. Google has the original cached (until and unless the Right to Be Forgotten kicks in…), and here it is.

    October 14, 2014 / 7:21 AM / in 3 years
    UPDATE 2-Oil producer Afren fires CEO, 3 other execs in scandal

    (Adds analyst comment, details of financial deals, updates share movement)

    By Abhiram Nandakumar

    Oct 14 (Reuters) – British oil and gas producer Afren Plc sacked its chief executive, chief operating officer and two associate directors after an independent review into unauthorised payments found evidence of “gross misconduct”.

    Shares in the company rose as much as 6.6 percent on Tuesday morning, which an analyst said was mainly on the conclusion of the review and that the incidents would not affect Afren’s operations.

    The probe also found that seven more current and former employees also received payments and Afren said it had begun disciplinary action against these employees.

    Afren said it would start legal proceedings against founder and CEO Osman Shahenshah, COO Shahid Ullah and associate directors Iain Wright and Galib Virani to recover money related to the payments.

    The dismissed executives could not be immediately reached for comment.

    Oriel Securities analyst Dragan Trajkov said the conclusion of the review and the lack of a material impact was positive.

    “Although failing to comply with some of the listing rules could result in further fines from FCA, we believe the market has already punished the company for it,” Trajkov said in a note.

    The review, conducted by law firm Willkie Farr & Gallagher (WFG), began in July to determine if three legitimate transactions with Afren’s partners Oriental Energy Resources Ltd and AMNI International Petroloeum Development Co Ltd in 2012 and 2013 should have been disclosed to the market.

    The review found that Shahenshah and Ullah had agreed with Oriental to receive 15 percent of the net cash flows that was due to Oriental from the Ebok oil field for 5 years from 2013 in exchange for $400 million in funding by Afren.

    Oriental paid $45 million for 2013 into a special purpose vehicle owned and controlled by the two top executives, who used the funds to pay bonuses to themselves and selected employees of Afren, the review found.

    WFG also uncovered evidence that suggested that the two executives sought personal benefits from a 2013 management buy-out of AMNI.

    WFG’s review found no evidence that either matter was discussed with Afren’s board, according to the statement.

    Afren suspended Shahenshah and Ullah in July when it began the review and the two associate directors in August as the review expanded.

    The independent explorer and producer, which has notified British watchdog Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), said its partners in Nigeria were not aware of any wrongdoing.

    The company said Toby Hayward will remain as interim chief executive while its board searches for replacements. Egbert Imomoh will remain as executive chairman.

    Afren shares, which have fallen by nearly a third since the review began, were up 2.7 percent at 100.1 pence at 1031 GMT on the London Stock Exchange. (Reporting by Abhiram Nandakumar in Bangalore; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)

  2. “when the UK Insolvency Service banned he and his former Chief”

    This is ungrammatical. ‘He’ is the subject of a verb. Use ‘him’ when it’s the object of a verb.

  3. “until and unless the Right to Be Forgotten kicks in…” but that’s only for the poor who will be the newly created information have-nots. Databases such as Lexis-Nexis will still keep this information which well resources people can view to their hearts content.

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